Dystopia is very much a boundary pushing genre. You can throw all sorts of concepts in to a dystopian world, even relatively controversial ones, but so long as you tell an engaging story, you can say things most other genres don’t dare say. But the thing is, if we’re really honest with ourselves, mainstream dystopia does have its boundaries. They are further out than other genres, yes. Murkier than other genres as well. But they are still there.
A couple of months back, I wondered how different that was on the indie publishing scene. I thought I’d find out first hand, by setting out on a search for a dystopia by an independent publisher. A bit of Google searching later and I had found a book called Remake by Ilima Todd which looked interesting. And it did not disappoint me. In fact, I’m not the only one to be impressed that mainstream publisher Simon and Schuster have now taken the book on.
Regardless, let me share with you the things that I think make Remake stand out from the crowd:
1. Far from your Typical Plot
The society in question is a place by the name of Freedom. Want to know how it’s messed up?
Well, all children are born in batches. Every month ten males and ten females, are born. They are all similar in appearance and assigned a number. They have the opportunity to pick their names as well as every other physical detail about how they want to look. On their seventeenth birthday they are taken away, to be physically redesigned to look however they want in what is called their remake. They also choose their name and trade. Sounds idealistic and slightly messed up, your typical dystopia, right?
Yes, it’s messed up, but the story goes in a whole new direction. Our lead character, Nine, a female in one of Freedom’s batches, is on her way to be remade, when their transport crashes in to the ocean. She washes up on a desert island and ends up living with rebels who do not wash to follow Freedom’s ways.
From there on in, it becomes a beautiful tale about a close knit family, the importance of family and how you can be a strong woman just by being an amazing mother as well as having the opportunity to do other things.
The family’s island home is also a beautiful setting. If I had to pick a place out of a book to move to I’d pick that island without hesitation. The story tells a tale of family, without being boring, in a way I haven’t seen before.
Remake has some very unique and diverse characters. Nine, our heroine, is not your typical girl. She looks different to the other members of her batch and is very conscious of that. She is very much a wonderer. She worries about just about everything.
Another member of the family, has a hearing impairment, but is still loved and valued by the rest of the family. It is so nice to see disability representation, where the disabled character is truly valued. Additionally, it’s nice to see a disabled character just in the story, rather than a disabled character who is in the story, because their disability is the conflict.
All of the members of the family are adorable in their own ways. Their love for one another leaps from the story, manifesting itself in every way possible. These characters are so good, you could potentially throw them in to a really boring story and I’d still want to read, just because of them.
3. An Interesting Yet Beautiful Portrayal of the Role of Women
Throughout history, women have suffered a lot at the hands of men. We have been undervalued, overlooked and even seen as property. Many people nowadays think, that the way a woman can best achieve equality, is to be exactly like a man. But the truth is, men and women are different, both physically and mentally.
Another great thing about this book is that it shows that a woman can be strong and equal to a man, by being in good harmony with him respecting and valuing her for who she is. It shows how a woman can be strong and valued through doing the best job open to her, being a brilliant mother, but while also being involved in other work to support the household.
The importance of motherhood is something too often forgotten these days, which is why it is so nice to see a book that really paints a picture of motherhood, that reflects the beauty it is. The women in this book aren’t underlings or second class citizens, they are a respected component of the family unit, just the way they should be. Yet their primary function is as mothers.
4. A Commitment to Love Someone for the Rest of Your Life
The other really nice thing about Remake, with regard to families, is the emphases on the idea of marriage, but more importantly, the commitment to always be with one person for the rest of your life. Something that often annoys me about the book world, is that many authors feel that the romance part of it, has to be a massive conflict. So they’ll have a love triangle or a conflicted relationship.
I’ve never really liked love triangles or really deeply conflicted relationships unless they explore something really powerful or important, because they are the things that break families apart. They are what leave single parents on their own trying to bring up children. They are what make people insecure in their relationships. So to me, they’re not the example that should be plastered over the pages of every book. Yes, there are some great books about conflicted relationships, many that I have enjoyed, but that doesn’t need to be every love story, just a few. Which is why, it’s refreshing to see such an emphasis on the idea of committing yourself to love one person for the rest of your life.
So these are the things that, for me, really make this book stand out. You’ll notice that we had the sequel Resist at the top of our list of books coming out in July. That was because of how amazing a book it looked like it was going to be and again, it has not disappointed me in the least.
Just in case it’s not obvious, I highly recommend checking out Remake and then going on to read Resist.